FANTASY PLAYS: Pats-Steelers a strong potential daily stack
The last few weeks of the NFL season can be a wild ride, particularly as playoff races heat up and bad weather becomes a potential factor in the Northeast and Midwest.
The main slate contests on FanDuel and DraftKings feature just one game with a total above 50 points as the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots both try to secure their playoff positioning. For daily fantasy contests this will be a popular game to target and there are a few different ways to approach it.
Jaylen Samuels remains a viable option again this week if James Conner sits. While coach Mike Tomlin suggested that the Steelers would use a committee approach, it was Samuels who saw 80 percent of snaps last week against the Oakland Raiders, including seven targets in the passing game. Samuels’ versatility could provide value against a Patriots defense that is known for trying to take away the opposing team’s primary weapons. With potential shadow coverage on one of Juju Smith-Schuster or Antonio Brown and safety help on the other, Ben Roethlisberger should continue to target Samuels out of the backfield. While Samuels did lose some goal line work to Stevan Ridley, his passing game upside makes him a viable target, particularly on DraftKings.
Savvy daily players will also consider game stacks — or pairing a QB with multiple passing options from his own team, as well as at least one player from the opposing team. The Steelers vs Patriots game is ripe for game stacking and both sides of the ball look like strong options in DailyRoto’s projections. Roethlisberger can be paired up with Samuels, Smith-Schuster, and/or Antonio Brown for high upside lineups if the game turns into a shootout.
The stack of Roethlisberger, Brown and Smith-Schuster projects for upwards of 70 fantasy points in PPR formats and should account for nearly 50 percent of the Steelers targets. If the Steelers passing game goes off, the Patriots will be forced to throw to catch up and lineups that play a high volume of Steelers should consider “bringing it back” the other way with Rob Gronkowski. He is priced similar to a WR2 but showed that he has TE1 upside last week, going for 100 receiving yards and a touchdown. Don’t let Gronkowski’s blunder on the Dolphins’ desperation play scare you off of his upside in daily fantasy formats.
On the Patriots side of the ball, game stacks are also viable, albeit a bit less predictable. While Roethlisberger funnels targets to Brown and Smith-Schuster, Tom Brady has been spreading it around with James White, Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Josh Gordon all averaging 15 percent or more targets on the season. Since Rex Burkhead’s return to the lineup and Michel’s return to health, White has seen his snap share decline to 40 percent, down from a season high of 80 percent. Because of this, DailyRoto’s projections prefer to pair Brady with Gronkowski, Edelman or Gordon versus the Steelers.
The distribution of the offense will be a challenge for users building just a single DFS lineup, so utilizing the Patriots in game stacks is a recommended approach for users building multiple lineups.